I don’t know about you, but if I get one positive message from reading a book, then it’s been worth reading that book. I read a book recently called Covid 19 – The Great Reset. It was pretty tough going but one phrase jumped out at me and that was Shareholder Capitalism v Stakeholder Capitalism. I was not sure I understood this so I googled it and once I had, it was obvious what it meant. 

Shareholder or State Capitalism is that the Shareholders – or the State in the case of emerging economies – come first. Everything is done for them. Stakeholder capitalism is putting the people first, doing what is right for the people and what is right for the economy and the environment.  I believe that if anything good comes from this pandemic, it is that there has to be a shift to Stakeholder Capitalism around the world. Businesses have to stop doing what is right just to benefit the shareholders. Governments around the world have to stop doing what is right for them and start serving the population of their countries, doing what is right for the people. That is what they are in power to do. They work for us, we don’t work for them.

Businesses have to change, Governments have to change and we – the population – have to do our bit too. I am sure I am not alone when I say that the leaders of countries are so out of touch with what their people want in the same way as many leaders of large corporations are out of touch with what their “staff” want. They do what benefits themselves and lose touch with everything else. So long as they are able to line their own pockets, nothing else matters. I am not saying everyone is like this but we all know of leaders of large businesses who have done this. 

Thankfully the small business community – of which I am part of – understand this better than most. They know that they are nothing without their team. Everyone is part of the big cog that keeps their business wheels turning. There are many though who do not look at business like this. Their whole focus is on buying a bigger car or bigger house to impress people they don’t even know rather than looking after their business team. 

I am really thankful for those great leaders I was fortunate to meet early in my business journey some 38 years ago who taught me the right values of putting others first. A quote I remember from all those years ago is, “Take your eyes off yourself. Put them on others. Help them get where they want to go and as a by product, you will get where you want to go.” This has served me well for the last 38 years, and I certainly have to reason to ever change this.

So let us hope that governments and business leaders around the world start waking up to put others first. Do what is right for the people you serve, those you employ. Do what is right for the environment. We all need to do our bit to help create a better world for us all. I vote for Stakeholder Capitalism over Shareholder Capitalism any date of the week.

This article was first published on LinkedIn by Richard Knight on 02/03/2021